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The Goyang International Horticulture Expo is an annual event held in the city’s Lake Park, near the western border of Seoul. It draws more than a million people and features 25 National Pavilions, plus 120 companies from 35 countries as well as 180 domestic companies. This year, the first Korean Garden Show was included as part of the Expo. I had the honor to be one of 17 designers selected in an open competition to realize my proposal during a two-week installation process before the opening.   

My proposal, “The Nostalgia,” began with the question, “Where is your garden?” The installation provides a tool for participants to reflect on this question and on their own memories. Most contemporary Koreans live in urban areas, and do not have a nicely manicured garden at home. Rather, we have small plants in pots that are close to our everyday chores. Think of your mother washing dishes, looking at her sweet flowers sitting in a little pot near your sink. Our gardens mingle with the everyday—common and humble, yet deeply personal and unique.

By choosing and amplifying an “old washing place” from Korean vernacular domestic scenes, this project highlights hidden aspects of the garden in everyday city life. This stimulates nostalgia for a common feeling of “home” that transcends generations and ethnicity.

Through this common, yet largely hidden, scene an overarching design idea was introduced to amplify our senses of simplicity, love, and delicacy. By twisting 42 identical canvases with a gradually changing rotational gradient, this project alternately reveals and conceals the space, creating interplay between collective memory and personal sentiment.

Each 600-by-2000-millimeter-long canvas was fastened at its bottom by wire with the same orientation and then warped by the rotatable wood hanger at the top with an individualistic directional gesture. This provided visitors with various views through the space, and created a wide range of visibility depending on a viewer’s location. In addition, as each canvas was spaced 1,100 millimeters apart on center and repeated in a polar array, visitors had to enter this space individually; as they moved through the installation, they caught glimpses of their friends and partners who experienced the installation with them. The simply constructed forms created by visual diffusion evoked a romantic curiosity into the sacred space of the everyday.

“The Nostalgia” consisted of three major components: at the top, a wooden structure; in the middle, 42 traditional fabric swatches rotated on pre-fabricated hangers; at the base, crushed stone with old wash basins, washboards, river rocks, and flowering plant species.

The construction of my garden was successfully completed by three passionate guys in six days. Because the competition awards were financially insufficient, we raised additional funds and donations for my vision to be realized. Preparing the installation remotely before going to Korea for construction was also difficult. Drawing details for pre-fabrication, placing orders for all construction materials, and scheduling delivery and equipment rental from San Francisco required much more effort than I expected. I want to share my appreciation again to all who supported this show. “The Nostalgia” became doubly successful thanks to you. So, here is my six-minute thank-you video clip. It includes a walk-through, the design idea, a design/built comparison, construction photos, and visitors’ interviews. Thank you.






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One Response to “Translating Memories into a Garden”

  1. Jenny Jones

    Thank you for uploading information about this inspiring translation of ideas into garden. We too are drawing upon community heritage for our Paxton Grenn Time Bank garden in Crystal Palace Park, London, UK.


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